Mum’s agony over search

Michael Sheehan

Michael Sheehan

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A HEARTBROKEN mother has questioned whether emergency services acted quickly enough to save her son after he tragically died in the sea off Blackpool.

Michael Sheehan, 14, was swept away as he and a friend played with a rubber ring close to the resort’s lifeboat station in July last year.

An inquest heard the teenager, who was on holiday from Northampton, had decided to head back to his family on the beach when, he got into difficulty.

Michael never made it to the shore. His body was found around two-and-a-half hours later, close to where he went missing.

The teenager’s mother, Alison Stirzaker, told the court she had serious concerns about the way in which the search for Michael was carried out.

In a statement read by coroner’s officer PC Ken Lord, she said: “Why is it nobody went into the sea?

“Why were there no divers?

“I feel very strongly if this had been the case Michael would have been found straight away.”

But the inquest heard the emergency services were on the scene within minutes of a 999 call from Michael’s family.

One member of the beach patrol had immediately waded into the sea close to where it is believed Michael went missing.

Following the two-and-a-half hour search by emergency services Michael was discovered by a member of the public.

He was rushed to Blackpool Victoria Hospital where two teams of doctors battled valiantly to resuscitate him.

But consultant Andrew Duncan said yesterday he estimated by the time Michael arrived at hospital it was “likely he had been dead for two or three hours”.

The court also heard there were no warning signs on the beach, but Blackpool coroner Anne Hind said she did not believe this would have had an effect.

Recording a verdict of misadventure, Mrs Hind said: “Michael’s family will perhaps in their hearts always wonder if anything more could have been done to save him.

“There’s absolutely nothing at all in the evidence to suggest that.”

Mrs Hind described Michael as a “very special person” who was “clever and captain of sports”.